7-Year-Old Swims From Alcatraz
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - May 22, 2006 -- A 7-year-old Arizona boy completed an estimated 1.4-mile swim from Alcatraz Island to the city's Aquatic Park early Monday.
Braxton Bilbrey crossed the channel in 47 minutes, according to his coach, who joined him in the chilly waters of San Francisco Bay along with two other adults.
The second-grader was greeted at the finish by reporters, photographers and well-wishers.
"I think it's pretty cool," the wetsuit-clad boy said shortly after his father grabbed him under the arms and lifted him from the chilly water.
Braxton said his next ambition is to swim the English Channel.
Stacey Bilbrey originally wasn't sold on the idea of her son swimming from Alcatraz, but she accepted it once he proved he was dedicated to his goal.
"For a 7-year-old to be that motivated and stick with a goal that long is amazing," she said.
Alcatraz, once a notorious federal prison that housed some of the nation's infamous criminals, including Chicago mobster Al Capone, is now a tourist site that attracts about 1 million visitors a year. It also draws a fair share of swimmers who attempt the crossing as part of the annual Escape from Alcatraz triathlon.
Braxton, who lives in Glendale, Ariz., got the idea when he saw a magazine story about a 9-year-old boy who made the swim. Johnny Wilson, a fourth grader from Hillsborough completed the swim in 53° waters last October.
Coach Joe Zemaitis said Braxton, who has completed several short-scale youth triathlons, planned to rest up after his swim.
"He did great," said his dad, Steve Bilbrey. "He looked so strong. He did so awesome. I'm so proud of him."
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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